The Latino Student Alliance is hosting a weeklong campaign called Follow the X, which will include events to raise awareness of the term “Latinx,” the gender neutral term for “Latino(a).” Members of LSA said the main goal of the week is to show inclusivity and respect for diversity through both words and actions.
“The language we use to identify Latino or Hispanic has been under debate, a little unclear even, and has changed a lot over recent times,” said Amelia Garcia, president of LSA and a fourth-year College student. “With all of that change, there’s a little confusion, so we’re trying to clarify it, and ... our organization feels that Latinx is the best term, in our opinion, to use because it is inclusive. It includes people who may not identify with the gender binary.”
The term Latinx also recognizes diversity within the Latino community.
“The Latino community is so diverse,” Garcia said. “There’s a diversity of races, of where families are from, how long they’ve been in the states.”
The events with Follow the X aim to clarify language that may be confusing to students who have never heard of the term.
“The idea is that people need to know what the language means in order to best utilize it,” Garcia said.
Last semester during Hispanic Heritage Month, LSA hosted a panel where speakers from the community talked about the term Latinx and its significance. Follow the X is continuing the conversations that took place there.
Follow the X over the past year also has sought to address incidents of hate speech at the University and across the country. Garcia said considering language is an important step for LSA to promote themselves to students as a safe and welcoming community.
“Last semester our community was faced with a lot of hate speech incidents, and there was was a lot of fear and anxiety. I think now looking at this semester, we are turning a page,” said Raquel Talbott, the public relations chair for LSA and a third-year College student. “We care and we understand how important rhetoric is.”
To mark the beginning of Follow the X, the LSA hosted an informal conversation in the Multicultural Student Center on Tuesday where students could stop by to ask questions about what Latinx means and why the LSA is encouraging the use of the term.
Wednesday night the LSA will hold a panel discussion where students will talk about their experiences with “Inclusivity in Latinx Language” at the Multicultural Student Center. It will allow for “reactions from different students as to how those different terms make them feel or how it’s played in effect in their life and gender identity,” Garcia said.
Students can sign banners Thursday at the Observatory Hill Dining Hall or South Lawn pledging to practice language inclusivity. Garcia hopes to involve as many students in the University as possible to foster the same welcoming environment in the University community.
To conclude the week on Friday, LSA will hold a celebration on the South Lawn to talk about “What is X?” with free music and food.